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The Best New Orleans Seafood Recipes for Celebrating Mardi Gras

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Scott Phillips

Creole cooks’ genius with seafood goes way beyond the gumbo and jambalaya familiar to many of us. Crawfish, oysters, head-on shrimp: these are the building blocks of many New Orleans seafood recipes perfect for celebrating Mardi Gras. But if you’re looking for something simpler and weeknight-friendly (it is a Tuesday after all), easy grilled shrimp skewers or quick catfish po boys are the way to go.

  • Cajun Shrimp Skewers
    Recipe

    Cajun-Seasoned Shrimp Skewers

    A Cajun-spice marinade gives this easy dinner fast flavor. Brushing some honey-lime butter onto the spiced shrimp just before serving adds richness and rounds out the spices.

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  • Recipe

    Grilled Scallops with Rémoulade Sauce

    This is a take on the more-familiar shrimp rémoulade. However, in this case we want the bold grilled flavor to come through, so we use the rémoulade sauce as a dipping sauce, much like you would a cocktail sauce. If you prefer, you could toss everything together and serve it over shredded lettuce in the style of a New Orleans lunch.

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  • Recipe

    Creole Salmon Cakes

    The relish that accompanies these slightly spicy cakes is reminiscent of the pickley olive salad you get in a New Orleans muffuletta sandwich; in fact, the cakes make fantastic sandwiches if you prefer to serve them that way.

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  • Recipe

    Crispy Catfish Po Boys

    Topped with creamy coleslaw and pickles, this rendition of the classic New Orleans sandwich makes a satisfying dinner.

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  • Recipe

    Sauté of Louisiana Crawfish

    You can buy crawfish live or already cooked and shelled. Most people use the cooked tails. They’re so much easier to cook with and don’t usually cost more despite the labor. If you do want to try the whole ones, figure you’ll get a half pound of cooked, shelled tails from every pound of live crawfish. Shrimp work beautifully for this recipe, too.

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  • Recipe

    New Orleans–Style BBQ Shrimp

    Huge, juicy shrimp dripping with butter, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and spices, this dish is a Crescent City classic. Leave it to eccentric New Orleans; despite the name, there’s no barbecue sauce or grill involved.

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  • Recipe

    Creole-Style Shrimp Jambalaya

    A creole-style (red) jambalaya always includes tomatoes. I like using tomato paste instead of canned or fresh tomatoes because it adds deeper flavor and gives the finished dish a rich hue. The shrimp are cooked for a long time, which may seem odd, but this method yields a flavorful jambalaya with tender—never mushy—shrimp. If you can find head-on shrimp, this is the place to use them; just remove and discard the heads at the point in the recipe where you peel and devein the shrimp.

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  • Recipe

    Seafood Gumbo

    The gumbos of the Creoles and Cajuns differed as much as the people who cooked them yet inevitably intersected in the 20th century as travel increased between the country and the city. At its simplest, seafood gumbo with okra and tomatoes is the gumbo of New Orleans, and while meat-centric gumbos (with andouille and/or chicken) come from Cajun country.

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  • Recipe

    Oyster Patties

    “Patties” is something of a misnomer for this old-fashioned New Orleans dish, which is made by filling puff pastry shells with oysters and an herb-flecked bacon-cream sauce. The classic recipe contains fresh thyme, but I prefer fresh sage for its harmony with the bacon in the sauce. Louisiana oysters are ideal for this dish, but if you are near coastal waters with fresh native oysters, by all means use them.

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